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Insanity on the Left

We have been tracking the Left’s over-the-top obsession with Koch Industries and the Koch brothers for some time now. It really does seem as though liberals held a meeting and decided to demonize Charles and David Koch as a way to deflect attention from the issues of spending, taxes and debt on which they have lost a large majority of the American people. The Left’s attack on the Kochs has always been more or less crazy, but I think we can identify the moment when the Left went completely around the bend on this subject. It happened on Wednesday, when the Huffington Post headlined: Former Koch Exec Supplying House’s New Styrofoam Cups. Huffpo’s story began:

Former Koch Industries executive George Wurtz owns WinCup, which supplies the styrofoam cups now littering the building following the House GOP’s decision to phase out biodegradable cups from a Capitol lunchroom. …
Suspending the program resulted in business for Wurtz, a former executive of Koch Industries subsidiary Georgia-Pacific LLC.

From the beginning, it was obvious that there was no punch line to the story, as Huffpo admitted that House Republicans had nothing to do with the selection of WinCup:

GOP leaders did not handpick Wurtz’s company, however — that decision rested with Restaurant Associates, which manages the cafeteria.

But that didn’t stop others in the fever swamp from jumping on another Koch Industries story. Slate headlined: “Former Koch Exec Is Selling Styrofoam to Congress Now.” Jonathan Chait wrote in The New Republic:

Elise Foley reports that the House Republicans, having eliminated biodegradable cups, have replaced them with styrofoam cups supplied by… you guessed it:

Former Koch Industries executive George Wurtz owns WinCup, which supplies the styrofoam cups now littering the building following the House GOP’s decision to phase out biodegradable cups from a Capitol lunchroom.

Next week the cafeteria will begin serving cocktails made from the tears of children thrown out of Head Start.

AllGov: “The winner of the GOP’s decision to return to Styrofoam is WinCup, a supplier owned by former Koch Industries executive George Wurtz. Koch Industries is owned by the Koch Brothers, two of the Republican Party’s most important donors.”
Crooks and Liars. (They said it, I didn’t): “Still, you could look at this as simply a petty little act of a party who refuses to look at the damage we’ve done to the environment with an adult eye, but you haven’t heard the punchline. Guess who got the contract for the new environmentally-unfriendly products?”
Mike Allen at Politico picked up the “story:” “NOT THE ONION -’Former Koch Exec Supplying House’s New Styrofoam Cups,’ by HuffPost’s Elise Foley: ‘Former Koch Industries executive George Wurtz owns WinCup, which supplies the styrofoam cups now littering the building following the House GOP’s decision to phase out biodegradable cups from a Capitol lunchroom.’
Many lesser left-wing blogs and message boards picked up on HuffPo’s story as well. Weirdly, none of these liberals seems to have recognized that the narrative didn’t make any sense. If the story is supposed to illustrate the vast influence of Koch Industries on the GOP, then why didn’t Koch Industries get the cup contract? How does the fact that the person who now runs WinCup once worked for Georgia-Pacific illustrate anything at all?
At Legal Insurrection, law professor William Jacobson correctly diagnosed this episode as the moment when liberal Koch-hatred jumped the shark:

[T]here is no story here. Someone who used to work for a Koch subsidiary landed a contract with the non-political people who run the cafeteria. So what?

Actually, it is even worse than that. Describing George Wurtz as “a former Koch Industries executive” is not just wrong, but perverse. According to his LinkedIn pofile, Mr. Wurtz served as Executive Vice President of Georgia-Pacific for four years, 2002-2006. He then was a consultant to Duro Company for one year, when he went to work for WinCup as President and CEO in January 2007. While these dates are not precise, they suggest that he left Georgia-Pacific in December 2005 or January 2006.
The significance of that timing is that Koch Industries acquired Georgia-Pacific on December 23, 2005. So what happened here is obvious: Mr. Wurtz was the Executive Vice President of a company that was acquired and taken private by Koch Industries. He did not wish to work for Koch Industries, and therefore left Georgia-Pacific immediately or almost immediately after the acquisition. Or possibly Koch Industries intended to replace him; we can’t tell from the public record. Either way, it is obvious that Koch’s acquisition of Georgia-Pacific caused George Wurtz to leave that company; a year later he took over WinCup. So HuffPo’s description of Mr. Wurtz as a “former Koch Industries executive” is an inversion of the truth.
HuffPo should have realized that its story made no sense, and with five minutes of research could have discovered that tying George Wurtz to Koch Industries was perverse. But the Left cares so little about accuracy that this kind of casual smear is the rule, not the exception, and liberals happily pass the smear on without giving any thought to whether it makes any sense at all.
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